Gerardo Flores: This strengthens our hope and removes our fear
I arrived in Philadelphia in 2006, but I came to New York from Mexico in 1987. I worked at a restaurant in New York and I saw the Twin Towers fall. The restaurant closed then, and it never reopened. We came to Philadelphia to visit and decided to stay.
Here we have business: we sell food from a cart at 401 W. Alleghany, near the Maria de los Santos health center. We sell pastelitos, tacos, tamales, chips, horchata, hibiscus water, food from the south of Puebla. When we started selling food there it was a vacant lot, and we’d take out the grill and the comal to cook. Now there is a mall that wants to get rid of the small merchants like us. But [the planning committee] let us stay, and that was a struggle that New Sanctuary Movement helped us with.
I wear the NSM t-shirt with pride, it's like a flag
I have a son who was deported. Looking for my son they went to the house, and they put the dog to sleep, but they did not find him [the first time]. The second time, they did. We have a friend who worked in the office of the state representative Angel Cruz who tried to help us, and the priest [at Visitation Church] also spoke with [the police - immigration].
NSM was just beginning back then. [They] came to us, to see if they could help us. They made a video about our experience, and many people learned about the situation through that.
In those days I was undocumented, and at first I was afraid to speak in public. But we saw that NSM was fighting for us, and we identified with them. We saw that we could defend ourselves better in a group and we started working as volunteers with NSM. At that time there was no capital, and NSM did not have much support, but we did a lot of work and we achieved a lot.